Christmas might be a big, happy, family and friend-filled big deal for you, and I envy you far more than you can realize for that. In recent years, though, it’s been especially lonely, as what little family I have is far away geographically and, in some cases, light years removed emotionally. Same thing with friends, particularly those who’ve known me for decades. And, besides, it falls towards the end of a month, and regular readers, I suspect, know how that reality triggers me. This year, with additional self-imposed deadlines pending that lo0m over me I’m especially on edge, and, if you must know, whatever plans I thought I had for Christmas Eve somehow never happened. My usual cocktail of occasional restless sleeping, virtual non-stop crying and dealing with persistent migraines was no different than any other night of late, just all the more intense given all else that I’m looking “ahead” to.
But, then again, I’m still waaaaay better off than I was four Christmases ago. And waaaaaay back when these musings were in their infancy, I shared with y’all exactly how I spent that Christmas season. If a picture paints a thousand words, for me, this one painted a million.
So much like the music and the ugly sweaters and the fatty cuisine that will likely make up your day (and I’m including a lot of the Chinese food that non-observers will consume by default as well), I’m dipping back to 2021 for something that will never go out of style and, frankly, will never fully leave my mind as long as I’m still defying the odds by continuing to breathe. That war began that Christmas, and it’s apparently not gonna end until someone above–or maybe a one-time friend–decides it’s over.
Lord knows my own best intentions seem to always backfire. At least that’s the messaging I continue to get, often through back channels. Some people’s lives are simply too busy this time of year to think of others’.
But if you ARE reading this, then you’re at least at the moment not to busy as too perhaps spend a fleeting second thinking about how much I envy most of you, and miss those of you who once were closer all the more.
Far more than I miss my gall bladder.
This link is still operable, by the way. Today, I’m merely requesting you click on it simply to read up on my sich. The requests for some sort of amplification or other action are implicit but today not my primary thought. Frankly, I’m simply asking for outreach. A Christmas GIF, and not just the ones you post on Facebook. Your own thoughts, without the triggering pictures of your beautiful, happy, fully assembled families. Without the backdrop of the nice house or fancy resort you may be at.
Merry Christmas to all who celebrate, and virtual hugs to all of you regardless. You may not be able to fathom how truly badly I wish they will someday not be virtual.
The last time anyone was capable of having a normal Christmas Day (let alone a fourth day of Chanukah), this is how I spent it. Lying with tubes stuck in me, an ugly white beard making me itch and grateful I had bid farewell to my diseased gall bladder less than 24 hours earlier.
As I’ve written before I hit what I thought was rock bottom when this reassuring photo was taken on Christmas Day 2019. Santa was a Beverly Hills fireman visiting seriously ill children fighting cancer in a steralized room across the hall from my room in Cedars-Sinai. Our paths crossed as I was using a walker attempting to get a few wobbly laps in around the corridors for the first time since my surgery the previous morning. When I mentioned that I had had the honor of volunteering with his station when I worked with the team that produced RESCUE ME this Santa acknowledged he had auditioned for a guest role and had gotten turned down. Yep, Santa was a working actor. After I assured him I had nothing to do with casting he took a liking to me and consented for this shot.
As we all know isolation and recovery is now something we all deal with, some to a greater extent than others. For me personally, my physical recovery has been remarkable. Since this picture was taken I have lost and kept off more than 45 pounds, gotten off of several medications and shaved not only my beard but a lot of other excess hair. I thank models, trainers and angels for that direction, including the inner direction of learning how to love myself and allowing a loving G-d to facilitate it. As this step-and-repeat shot from the summer at a party full of real models attests, I think I look damn good for a dude my age.
But as Omicron, political divide, business unrest and the lost art of courtesy ravage our lives I’d be lying if I said the rest of my world is anything resembling positive. I struggle financially and emotionally. Friendships I thought I had have disintegrated; new ones I’ve been able to develop limited by the abject fear of human contact that is particularly rampant over the past month. The nightmare of Covid has shut down many options for human contact that only a few months ago seemed possible. Simply making a living has become a massive challenge. Those of you that know me better know my details. Out of respect I will withhold them for those of you who are more casual connections. Suffice to say I’ve seen far better days financially and emotionally.
I spent Christmas Eve this year alone. I had the option of going out and perhaps meeting some new people. But the past few weeks of regression have simply been overwhelming. In a city like Los Angeles where the mere sight of a person’s lips sees people visibly start to shake and where threatening letters and e-mails are mounting for me I simply didn’t have the strength to fake the confidence that the picture you see here exudes. Plus, there was a possibility I’d actually run into people I want to avoid. I settled in with a bowl of hot soup, tried to watch Being the Ricardos (sadly have to agree with many critics who thought this was overacted and underwritten considering the caliber of talent; sorry, Mike Hopkins–but do take any Oscars your studio may get), and once again dozed off with eyes wet with tears.
I question myself as I use Leblanguage this brutally honest. Many people are suffering in far greater ways these days. If you’ve been physically sick you know how challenging it is to get quality medical care as COVID dominates our challenged medcial facilities. If you’ve had COVID, you know it’s indeed real and it indeed sucks. If you’ve lost a loved one to it, you’re likely grieving. I still grieve for the relative I lost from it early into this, even if his family would rather I didn’t. He lived for the kind of people I now can call friends, ironically living in an area he desperately tried to achieve his own personal success in his lifetime. I wish he could see me now. I’d like to think he can, and he’s the happiest soul wherever he may be now.
In spite of thoughts to the contrary, I’ve awoken Christmas Day. No tangible presents for me–no tree, no stocking in this apartment. I got the gift of giving a few to some very appreciative recipients far away. I’ll see them soon. I hope they’ll hug me. I’m fully vaxxed and boosted, remember? And if you think this Christmas entry is depressing, I’ll leave you with this. New Year’s isn’t far off. Many new beginnings and successes await. Those that claim to know for sure insist upon it. I’d rather blindly believe them for once, no matter what science, the numbers and my fear-consumed fellow Angelenos may currently believe. I assure you, if weather doesn’t cancel it my New Year’s entry will be a lot more upbeat. Stick around. I have, and I’m far better off for it.
Merry Christmas to those who celebrate.
Until next time….